vegetable dumplings

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Vegetarian Dumplings
Adapted from Alton Brown

1/2 pound firm tofu
1/2 cup coarsely grated carrots
1/2 cup shredded Napa cabbage
2 tablespoons finely chopped red pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped scallions
2 teaspoons finely minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro leaves
2 minced cloves garlic (Deb addition)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil (I replace 1 teaspoon with hot sesame oil — delicious)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
35 to 40 small wonton wrappers
1/3 cup chicken stock or water

Preheat the oven to 200°F.

Cut the tofu in half horizontally and lay between layers of paper towels. Place on a plate, top with another plate, and place a weight on top (a 14-ounce can of vegetables works well). Let stand 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, cut the tofu into 1/4-inch cubes and place in a large mixing bowl. Add the carrots, cabbage, red pepper, scallions, ginger, cilantro, soy sauce, hoisin, sesame oil, egg, salt, and pepper. Lightly stir to combine.

To form the dumplings, remove 1 wonton wrapper from the package, covering the others with a damp cloth. Brush the edges of the wrapper lightly with water. Place 1/2 rounded teaspoon of the tofu mixture in the center of the wrapper. Shape as desired*. Set on a sheet pan and cover with a damp cloth. Repeat procedure until all of the filling is gone.

Heat a 12-inch saute pan over medium heat. Brush with vegetable oil once hot. Add 8 to 10 potstickers at a time to the pan and cook for 2 minutes, without touching. Once the 2 minutes are up, gently add 1/3 cup chicken stock to the pan, turn the heat down to low, cover, and cook for another 2 minutes.

Remove wontons to a heatproof platter and place in the warm oven. Repeat until all the wontons are cooked.

Serve immediately.

* Shaping and storing dumplings dumplings: Epicurious has some great demos if you’re looking to get the type of crimp you see above. (Though I am far less careful, of course.) A few other things I suggest: parchment paper, not foil. Keep them good and separate — these thin-skinned wonton wrappers will stick to each other and never come apart. Finally, even if I am using the dumplings within a day, I always freeze them. Do so right on the parchment-lined tray, making sure none are touching. Once they are frozen solid, you can pop them in a freezer bag and keep them for a long while in the freezer. Even if you’re using them soon, they’re much easier to handle frozen. Believe me, I have learned the hard, sobbing way more than once.

Simplest Dumpling Dipping Sauce

1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil or 1/2 tablespoon dark, 1/2 tablespoon hot sesame oil
1 small clove garlic, minced (optional)

Sesame Dressing
Adapted from Gourmet, July 2001

1 (1/2-inch-thick) slice peeled fresh ginger
1/4 cup Asian sesame paste or smooth peanut butter
3 tablespoons Asian sesame oil
1/4 cup rice vinegar (not seasoned)
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon Asian chile paste with garlic*
1/2 teaspoon salt

Blend all dressing ingredients in a blender until smooth. Dressing keeps, covered tightly and chilled, 1 week.

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